Morales, Red Sox beat Twins in finale, 6-4

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Morales, Red Sox beat Twins in finale, 6-4

BOSTON Filling in for the ailing Josh Beckett and making his first start since July 13, Franklin Morales accomplished what no other starting pitcher was able to do in the four-game series against the Twins: He won.

The Red Sox beat the Twins, 6-4, at Fenway Park Sunday afternoon, ending their four-game losing streak.

It was also the first win by a starting pitcher since Clay Buchholz beat the Tigers on July 30.

Morales went six innings, giving up one run on three hits with three walks and four strikeouts. He threw 106 pitches, 63 for strikes, lowering his overall ERA from 3.32 to 3.14.

In six starts this season, Morales is 3-1, while the Sox are 4-2 in those games. Spanning 32 13 innings, he has allowed 11 earned runs for a 3.06 ERA, giving up 25 hits and 11 walks with 35 strikeouts.

The Sox offense came together for 14 hits, led by Adrian Gonzalez, who went 2-for-3 with three RBI, a run scored, a home run and an intentional walk. It was his second intentional walk in the last three games after receiving just one intentional pass this season.

Gonzalezs two-run home run into the Monster seats in the fifth inning scored Carl Crawford who singled. It was Gonzalezs 11th home run of the season.

On his 31st birthday, Crawford went 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored.

The Twins put a scare into the Sox in the ninth with Vicente Padilla on the mound. Josh Willingham led off with a home run, his 28th of the season, to straightway center. After a walk to Justin Morneau, Ryan Doumit crushed his 11th home run into the bleachers behind the visitors bullpen in right, cutting the Sox lead to two runs.

But Alfredo Aceves came in, retiring the next three batters, to preserve the win, earning his 23rd save.

The Sox opened the scoring with two runs in the third. Mike Aviles led off with a single to center, taking third on Jacoby Ellsbury's double to left. Aviles scored on Crawfords groundout to shortstop. Consecutive singles by Dustin Pedroia and Gonzalez scored Ellsbury, giving the Sox a 2-0 lead.

The Twins got a run in fifth when Alexi Casilla walked to lead off, stole second, went to third on Jamey Carrolls ground out, and scored on Ben Reveres sacrifice fly.

The Sox added a run in the seventh when Crawford led off with a single, taking second on Pedroias groundout. After an intentional walk to Gonzalez, Cody Ross single to center scored Crawford, giving the Sox a 5-1 lead.

The Sox got another run in the third when Ryan Kalish doubled with one out off reliever Luis Perdomo, stole second and scored on Ellsburys sacrifice fly.

Nick Blackburn took the loss for the Twins, falling to 4-7 with a 7.42 ERA. He went five innings, giving up four runs on nine hits, with no walks, four strikeouts, and a home run.

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.